Friday, July 06, 2007

Journal Entry – July 4 – 6, 2007 The Fish Market and the Wolverines

Author: Pam

Well, July 4th of course came and went unnoticed in Australia. Actually one acquaintance asked me if we had any plans, but otherwise I didn’t even really think about the picnic I would be attending if we were at home. I actually had a lot less fun than a picnic, I went to see the Dr. for the results of the tests I had a couple of weeks ago. Everything is fine, it was mostly the opportunity for piece of mind before we head off into the islands where a Dr. might be the local chief or the herb Kava (which you will hear more about once we are in Vanuatu). We were headed back to the boat, but spontaneously decided to go out to Bondi Junction to investigate hair cut options for me. I was planning to make an appointment for Friday, but we decided today was as good a day as any, so I settled on the salon Hair Talks. It was an experience that had its dodgey feeling moments, but in the end thankfully my hair did look better and wasn’t green. We grocery shopped on the way home and began a small dose of the arduous task of provisioning.

The wind started to build on Wednesday night as Australia was being hit with the ramifications of the biggest high over the Tasman Sea in the last 50 years. Lucky us, another record breaking weather pattern for the winter of 2007 and another delay in the engine installation. Bob and Rob were supposed to come today to finish the last bits and take the boat out for her test run, but Mother Nature had other ideas. If that wasn’t enough the wind also stole one of our mats on the outside of the boat and a clothes pin. It was an extra nice clothes pin too. Both causalities were our fault, we actually discussed whether we should bring in the mat before we left and decided it would be ok. New rule on Starship, if we even question it whatever it is, we will do it. We already have that rule when it comes to reefing the sail, if we ask one another do you think we should put a reef in, we do. We weren’t too terribly productive as the wind howled all day and we wondered if Bob would come the next day. I did get a manicure/pedicure today. Ok, I have been declared healthy, have a new “do” and clean and clipped paws and claws, I am ready to get out of Dodge.

Yup, no Bob on Friday even though the wind was dying by mid morning. Our friend Amber from the US came over to Starship for one of Scott’s famous breakfasts. She is heading out on Monday to continue her backpacking trip up the east coast of Australia. It was nice for all of us to feel a connection to home. Who knows where we will see her again, it doesn’t sound like grass will grow under her feet once she returns to the states.

After she left we were sitting in the cockpit feeling sorry for ourselves for the continued delays with the engine and discussing with very little enthusiasm what we were going to do with the rest of the day, when Bernie came by in “Solus” (his 25‘ wooden boat) and asked if we would like to go for a ride on the harbor. It took us about two seconds to grab a few things and jump aboard for a wonderful personal tour of Sydney Harbor. The Kitty Hawk and four other US Naval ships had arrived with some difficulty in all of the wind on Wednesday. We had no idea they were in town until David Marshall mentioned it, we really don’t have much access to news. Apparently the businesses are all hyped up for the millions of dollars that is expected to be spent over the weekend as our sailors and their families are here for some R&R. There are 5500 service men and women on the Kitty Hawk alone. She is a massive air craft carrier and will be heading back to the East Coast of the US to be decommissioned after her swan song undergoing exercises with the Australian Navy. We got a good look at her thanks to Bernie.

Our tour continued past the Opera House and under the Harbor Bridge where Bernie told us the Harbor Bridge secret which can only be shared when you are directly under the bridge. You will have to visit Sydney and meet an Aussie who knows the secret to hear it for yourself. After making our way through the veritable highway on the harbor we motored into Black Wattle Bay where we visited my new favorite place in Sydney, the Fish Market. You may recall Scott was taken there the day he went out on Free Spirit for the Tuesday Secret Men’s Business sail. I have been jealous ever since and now I know my jealousy was not unfounded. I was in heaven, there was piles of fresh fish and seafood everywhere you turned! We got a snack of Tiger prawns, followed by sushi and topped off with fish and calamari. The prawns were $18.99 a kilo (two pounds) which was at least $10.00 less than you would see them at the small fish counters near the grocery stores. Scott suggested I could get a parka and move into one of the freezers. I thought a penguin for a pet would be nice company. Since that wasn’t going to happen, as we were leaving I was already scheming how I was going to get back there again.

We got back in time to take a shower and rush off to meet Kate and Bernie for dinner. We arrived at Ash’s to find we were also having dinner with Kate, Tom and Frances. It was a lively group that was just getting warmed up for the fun to come. We had bought tickets to see the Wolverines concert at the Cruising Yacht Club. The Wolverines are three sailors who perform to raise money for kids sailing and cystic fibrosis. The CYC concert was the kickoff for their tour up the East Coast of Australia on their boat Holy Cow. We were not surprised to find out she has black and white sails. We met other friends once we arrived and had a really fun time dancing to their unique twists on some familiar tunes as well as some of their own original songs. The band members each bring their own personality to the stage, especially John with his perfectly combed foot and a half long beard. One of the band members had a sister with cystic fibrosis and one of their songs was written by him sharing his experience of being told about her illness. He thought his parents told him she had sixty five roses, which does sound remarkably like cystic fibrosis. It is a beautiful song that did not leave a dry eye in the house. It was another memorable evening in Sydney with our very special friends.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Journal Entry – June 30 – July 3, 2007 Starship Purrs Like A Tiger

Author: Pam

We returned from Lightning Ridge invigorated and ready to reclaim Starship and tackle the remaining items on our never ending “To Do” list. We spent the entire day on Saturday corralling wayward hoses and engine bits that were crawling all over the cockpit, putting away the multitude of things that had escaped from their places of safe keeping and cleaning the grease and grime from the surfacest. While I was cleaning Scott installed yet another water pump for the fresh water system. Unfortunately the one he installed last week uses more than five amps and would be best kept as its intended purpose as a spare. Our day of reclaiming the boat and our life aboard ended with a big grocery run and a yummy dinner of Bob and David’s authentic beef stroganoff recipe. They shared the recipe in the car on the way to Lightning Ridge. For the life of me I can’t remember how it came up, but we are sure glad it did, it’s a keeper.

On Sunday we met David, Donna, Kate and Bernie for the Sunday brekki at the Cruising Yacht Club. It was nice to see our Sydney friends and we had an audience for the tales of our most recent adventure. Kate had just returned from Darwin (located at the top of Australia) and she shared a bit of info that may be helpful if we make a stop there before heading to Indonesia. After our tummies were full we came back to the boat and spent the rest of the day hunkered down in the back cabin catching up on the administrative side of our life. When we finally came up for air we were both too knackered to think about dinner, so it was an at sea meal of grilled cheese sandwiches and soup.

Our admin tasks carried over to Monday morning until the AuquaTech technicians arrived to install our new AIS (automatic identification system) receiver. The installation had a few bumps along the way, but ultimately the kinks got worked out and we were being notified of all the ships in the vicinity. We were not able to install the receiver so the information overlays on our radar, we unfortunately have one model too old. Instead, the receiver is connected directly to the computer at the nav station. We now need to get the Blue Tooth technology so we can access the information while we are at the helm. I think once we get all of the components working we will be very happy with the set-up and grateful for any information we can get about ships within approximately 25 miles of us. The sun was out again, so there is hope the weather is improving and Sydney will come into their “normal” fine winter days.

Tuesday was a BIG day! Starship has an engine that purrs again, as Scott would say WOO HOO! After a day of hoses and wires snaking their way in every direction the guys were finally ready to try to start the engine for the first time. I was on the stern, where I had spent the day cleaning the BBQ. That was not exactly my plan, but there really wasn’t anywhere else to be since I was useless anywhere near the engine surgery. Scott on the other hand hovered and asked questions all day, I think he has definitely moved passed diesel engines 101. Fortunately, Bob is very patient and seems to thrive on Scott’s interest in knowing as much as possible about the care and feeding of our new baby. No one gave me any warning, there was no ceremonial proclamation, the next thing I knew the engine was running and water was spitting out of the back of the boat, which is a very good thing. Their was a moment of drama the first time it started, Bob yelled “turn it off “, my initial excitement instantly swerved to holding my breath. The next thing I knew they started it again and the drama was over. There was a big discussion about an external versus internal regulator for the alternator and within minutes yet another dilemma was solved and all was good. We are in the home stretch, Bob and Rob left at the end of the day with a plan to return on Thursday to finish up the last few tweaks and to take the boat out to check the propeller. That will be exciting to actually be moving, even if it is only a quick jaunt out into the harbor. The day ended with a marathon visit to the Internet cafĂ© to post journal entries. Leaving Sydney and getting underway is beginning to feel like a reality, we are aiming for July 14th to make our first move up the coast. Cross your fingers we can get all of kangaroos in a row.